Maiduguri - Officials say suspected fighters from a radical Islamist sect beheaded three people in a north-eastern Nigerian city where gunfire has echoed through the street.

The violence took place on Wednesday in Maiduguri and appeared to be the work of the sect known as Boko Haram.

Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa said three people had been beheaded in an early morning attack in a Maiduguri neighbourhood. Later, witnesses and officials said four bodies were found in another neighbourhood. Residents say a Boko Haram fighter also shot and killed another person, drawing mortar fire from the military.

Boko Haram is waging a bloody sectarian fight against Nigeria's weakened central government, which has been unable to stop the violence.

Authorities blamed the sect for killing five others on Tuesday in the northern city of Kano. - Sapa-AP